Monday, March 9, 2009

Aviation in 1907 to 1908

September 21 — Wilbur Wright sets a new world record for time aloft, 1 hour and 31 minutes. He does the best flying of his life in the months that follow, knowing he has to give the press something to talk about besides Orville’s terrible crash. He sets new records almost daily.

January 13 — Henry Farman wins the Grand Prix d’Aviation in a modified Voisin biplane, flying the first circle in Europe.

February — The Wrights reach an agreement with the United States War Department to deliver a two-seat aircraft for $25,000.

March — A syndicate of French businessmen agree to manufacture Wright airplanes if the Wrights will come to France and demonstrate one.

March 12 — The Aerial Experiment Association tests its first plane, the Red Wing on a frozen lake in Hammondsport, New York. It makes a 319-foot hop and crash-lands.

April 9 — Wilbur Wright returns to Kitty Hawk to practice flying before he demonstrates the improved aircraft they now call the Wright Model A.

April 25 — Orville Wright joins Wilbur in Kitty Hawk

May 6 — Orville and Wilbur resume flying tests.

May 21 — The Aerial Experiment Association tests its second plane, the White Wing with Glenn Curtiss at the controls. It makes a 1,017-foot flight and lands safely.

May — The Wrights decide to divide their forces — Orville to Fort Meyer, Virginia, Wilbur to France.

May — Henry Farnam, France, challenges the Wrights to a fly-off for cash stakes — $5,000 — for best speed and distance. When newspapermen confront Wilbur with the challenge, he characteristically has no comment.

June — Wilbur Wright arrives in France, finds the Wright Model A that was shipped there was smashed by Customs officials. He begins to repair it with hired French workmen in a corner of the Le Mans automobile factory.

July 4 — The Aerial Experiment Association wins the Scientific American prize with the June Bug, a plane designed and piloted by Glenn Curtiss. The same day, Wilbur Wright is badly burned in France when a radiator hose explodes.

August 8 — With the French press taking pot shots at the Wrights, Wilbur decides "it would be a good thing to do a little something," even though the Wright Model A is not quite ready. A crowd gathers at the Le Mans racetrack, including Bleriot, Archdeacon, and other French aviators. Wilbur makes a flight of almost 2 minutes and the French are won over. Says Delagrange, "Well, we are beaten." Bleriot says, "Monsieur Wright has us all in his hands." Only Archdeacon is a little sour.

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